Course syllabus


ARK 610, 3.0 ects, Spring term 2023version 2023.03.04


Course responsible: Kristina Grange

Program: MPDSD




ARK610 History, theory and method 5 lp3 VT23 (3 hp)

Course is offered by the department of Architecture and Civil Engineering



The aim of this course is to further the students’ knowledge about power perspectives shaping the city, and ultimately the society we live in. We will look at how economic, social and political preconditions shape how we currently think about, plan and reproduce the city; what the consequences of these preconditions are for individuals as well as the society; but also how one could think differently about these processes. We will specifically ask questions concerning how architects and planners can relate to these societal issues, in order to contribute to a better world for more people.

The course Urban Planning and Design Theory – Dealing with Inequalities will explore specific theoretical trajectories dealing with issues such as Equality, Gender and Democracy in the City; Segregation and Urban Uprisings; Gentrification, Renovictions and Housing Politics; and The Right to the City. For each seminar there will be a specific theme we deal with and texts we read and discuss jointly and in smaller groups. There will also be suggestions for other readings, in order to enhance each student’s choice of a theme for individual work.

The course will further train the student’s ability to use source texts as a basis for formulating a research question, an individual position, and a line of argument. It will also train the student in analysing arguments laid out in other texts, and appropriately use citation, references and bibliography. Each student will hand in a final academic text of 2000-2200 words, complete with references and a bibliography. Students are required to participate actively in a minimum of 80% of the seminars.


Assignments and Pedagogy

For each literature seminar there will be two mandatory texts that will be discussed. Each student will have to hand in a short text (1/2 an A4 page) the day before each seminar, in which the texts are analysed. In these assignments one should answer the questions:

  • What did I find interesting with these texts?
  • What from these texts do I want to take further in my final academic text?
  • After having read these texts, what do I see as a possible line of argument for my own essay?

After having handed in the assignments, the students will be divided into groups of 4-5 persons. Each student is expected to give comments on one other student’s text, during the group work. The three literature seminars consist of both short lectures, group work, and concluding discussions in class.

After the three literature seminars have been held the students will be divided into focus groups, in which the members jointly will discuss and help each other in developing their individual academic texts. Before the final handing in of the final assignment, there will be an opportunity for individual meetings where the student can raise questions about aim, method and structure of the essay and discuss with the teacher.


Final assignment and grading

Each student’s final assignment is reviewed and graded after submission at the end of the semester. Grading is 3, 4, 5 or failed. The grade 3 equals a good assignment, which is mainly descriptive, and in which the student refers to both individually chosen texts and texts from the course literature. The grade 4 equals a more analytical approach by which the student has not only produced a well written assignment but managed to show a deeper understanding and ability to use references from both the course literature and other sources in a more analytical way. The grade 5 is excellent, and equals an assignment by which the student has shown a deep theoretical understanding, managed to use references from both the course literature and other texts and produced an independent and argumentative contribution. The final assignments must be handed in in time (medical certificate needed for a change of deadline). The assignments should be submitted as word files, with name and the amont of words declared. They must include references to the course literature. There is no chance to rework the essay for a new grading during the course.


Hours in class

4 x 3 = 12, plus optional meeting for individual questions

Hours for individual studies



Course representatives 2023

UTBYTE                 Jens Allard

MPARC                                Ziyue Chen

MPARC                             Oskar Duvetorp

MPDSD                           Tanja Hellsten Romeborn

MPARC                           Louisa Roth



Schedule, zoom links and readings



15th March,       9.00-12.00 on zoom

                           zoom link: (password ARK610)

                           (8.00-9.00 and 13-16 individual work)

                           - Introduction to the course, themes for seminars, course representatives, requirements for passing, etc.

                           - The Film Push, 1h 30min


  Optional reading:

  • Jonas, AEG, McCann, E and Thomas M (2015) Chapter 1, Approaching the City, In: Urban Geography: A Critical Introduction, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, p. 1-26.



Literature Seminar 1 – SEGREGATION

21st March,       Hand in of short assignment on Canvas

22nd March,      9.00-12.00 SB-R245, (8.00-9.00 and 13.00-16.00 individual work)


 Mandatory readings:

  • Dikec, M (2017) Chapter 1 and 5, Rage in the Urban Age, and Even in Sweden, In: Urban Rage. The Revolt of the Excluded, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, p. 1-15 and 130-155.


  Optional readings:

  • Chadda, A and Wilson, WJ (2011) ‘Way Down in the Hole’: Systemic Urban Inequality and The Wire, Critical Inquiry, Vol 38(1): 164-188.
  • Davis, M (2004) Planet of Slums: Urban Involution and the Informal Proletariat, New Left Review, 26: 5-34.
  • Sernhede, O, Thörn, C, and Thörn, H (2016) The Stockholm Uprising in Context: Urban Social Movements in the Demise of the Swedish Wel-fare City. In: Mayer, M, Thörn, C & Thörn, H (Eds.) Urban Uprisings. Challenging Neoliberal Urbanism in Sweden, London: Palgrave MacMillan, p. 149-173.



Literature Seminar 2 – GENTRIFICATION

28th March,       Hand in of short assignment at Canvas

29th March,       9.00-12.00 SB-R245, (8.00-9.00 and 13.00-16.00 individual work)

                           - What is academic reading and writing?


  Mandatory readings:

  • Thörn, C, and Holgersson, H (2016) Revisiting the urban frontier through the case of New Kvillebäcken, Gothenburg, City, 20(5): 663-684.
  • Landzeius, M (2012) Real estate ownership concentration and urban governance, In: Larsson, B, Letell, M and Thörn, H (Eds.) Transformations of the Swedish Welfare State. From Social Engineering to Governance?, 230-245.


  Optional readings:

  • Harvey, D (2004) The ‘new’ imperialism: Accumulation by dispossession Social Register, 63-87.
  • Holgersson, H, Thörn, C, Thörn, H and Wahlström M (2010) A critical view of Gothenburg, In: Holgersson, H, Thörn, C, Thörn, H and Wahlström M (Eds.) (re)searching Gothenburg. Essays on a changing city, Gothenburg: Glänta production, p. 7-26.
  • Tahvilzadeh, N, Montin, S and Cullberg, M (2017) Functions of sustainability: exploring what urban sustainability policy discourse ‘does’ in the Gothenburg metropolitan area, Local Environment, 22(1): 65-85.
  • Thörn, C (2011) Soft Policies of Exclusion: Entrepreneurial Strategiesof Ambience and Control of Public Space in Gothenburg, Sweden, Urban Geography, 32(7): 989-1008.




Start developing ideas for your individual essays

3rd April,           13.00-17.00, Self study in focus groups

4th April,           13.00-17.00, Self study individually

5th April,           13.00-16.00, Self study individually

6th April,           13.00-17.00, Self study in focus groups

11th April,         13.00-17.00, Self study individually

12th April,         13.00-16.00, Self study individually/or choose to book a time for supervision




12th  April,        13.00-16.00 zoom, sign up in advance for these meetings by email

                           Zoom-link: (password ARK610)


Between 3rd and 12th April: Meet up in the focus groups and start exploring ideas for your individual final essay. Go through your short assignments and see if there are topics there that you would like to develop for your final essay. Start looking for material (books, articles, news papers etc which can provide your with information about your topic). Go to the library or search through Chalmers library’s webpage. If you want to, explore jointly in the focus groups, or individually, one of the themes below:


Optional readings for self study and/or focus group work –


  Suggested reading:

  • Listerborn, C (2016) Feminist struggle over urban safety and the politics of space, European Journal of Women’s Studies, 23(3): 251–264.
  • Fraser, N (1995) From Redistribution to Recognition? Dilemmas of Justice in a ‘Postsocialist’ Age. New Left Review, (212):68-93.


  Optional readings:

  • Fainstein, S (2009) Spatial justice and planning, Journal on Spatial Justice and Planning, 1(1): 58–7,
  • Soja, E (2010) Prologue, In: Seeking Spatial Justice, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p. vii-xviii.
  • Uitermark, J and Nicholls, W (2017) Planning for social justice: Strategies, dilemmas, tradeoffs Planning Theory, 16(1): 32–50.
  • Young, IM (1990) Chapter 1, Displacing the Distributive Paradigm, In: Justice and the Politics of Difference, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 15-38.



Optional readings for self study and/or focus group work – THE RIGHT TO THE CITY            


  Suggested readings:

  • Jonas, AEG, McCann, E and Thomas M (2015) Chapter 12, Alternative Urban Spaces and Politics, In: Urban Geography: A Critical Introduction, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, p. 1252-273.
  • Bradley, K (2015) Open-Source Urbanism: Creating, Multiplying and Managing Urban Commons, Footprint, Spring 2015: 91-108,


  Optional readings:

  • Harvey, D (2008) The right to the city, New Left Review, 53: 23-40.
  • Hernberg, H and Mazé, R (2017) Architect/Designer as ‘Urban agent’: A case of mediating temporary use in cities, Nordes (7): 1-7,
  • Lefebvre H (1968) The right to the city, In: Writings on cities, Massachusett: Blackwell, p. 147-149.
  • Massey, D (2004) Geographies of responsibility, Geografiska Annaler, 86(1): 5-18.
  • Purcell, M (2003) Excavating Lefebvre: The right to the city and its urban politics of the inhabitant, GeoJournal, 58: 99–108.



Literature Seminar 3 – HOUSING POLITICS

18th April,         Hand in of short assignment at Canvas

19th April,         9.00-12.00 SB-R245, (8.00-9.00 and 13.00-16.00 individual work)


Mandatory readings:

  • Baeten, G, Westin, S, Pull, E and Molina, I (2017) Pressure and Violence: Housing renovation and displacement in Sweden, Environment and Planning A, 49(3): 631-651.
  • Harvey, D (2015) Contradiction 1, Use Value and Exchange Value, In: Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, London: Profile Books, p. 15-24.


  Optional readings:

  • Hedin, K, Clark, E, Lundholm, E and Malmberg, G (2012) Neoliberalization of Housing in Sweden: Gentrification, Filtering and Social Polarization, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 102(2): 443-463.
  • Jonas, AEG, McCann, E and Thomas M (2015) Chapter 2, Cities for Whom?, In: Urban Geography: A Critical Introduction, West Sussex: Wiley Blackw, p.27-52.
  • Movilla Vega, D and Hallemar, D (2017) 99 Years of the Housing Question in Sweden, Lund: Studentlitteratur.




3rd   May,           9.00-12.00 SB-R245, sign up in advance for these meetings by email/or self study


3rd   May,           8.00-16.00, Self study individually

17th May,           8.00-16.00, Self study individually

19th May,           8.00-17.00, Self study individually




19th May,           17.00 Deadline for handing in final academic text on Canvas











General course plan

ARK 590-615 History, theory and method,

Elective course 3 hp

Grades: Five, Four, Thee, Failed



The course furthers the students’ knowledge in the history, theory or critical studies of architecture and urban design. It explores specific theoretical trajectories that shape current issues in the field. It trains the students’ ability to use source texts as a basis for formulating a position, argument and/ or research query.


Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to:)


Knowledge and understanding

Demonstrate an understanding of a particular theoretical trajectory in architecture and urban design.


Abilities and skills

Understand and analyse arguments laid out in theoretical texts.
Use theoretical texts as basis for formulating a position or query.
Appropriately use citation, references and bibliography.


Ability of assessment and attitude

Promote the value (and joy!) of history, theory and critical studies in architecture. Critically relate their own writing and arguments in the course to larger issues or questions in architecture and urban design, as outlined in the brief.



The course consists of a series of lectures and seminars that contextualizes and discusses readings. With the aid of these seminars, and in dialogue with the instructor, students formulate a topic for their final paper. The final paper should be an academic text of minimum 2.000 words, complete with references and a bibliography.



The course starts in week 5 of the semester and meets 4-5 times before the end of the semester. The brief and its context is introduced in an introductory lecture. Learning is structured around a weekly reading assignment and a seminar or lecture of maximum 3 hours. Deliverables are defined at the outset of the course through weekly readings, assignments and presentations as well as in a final paper. Students work individually.



To be announced in a bibliography in each course brief.



Course summary:

Date Details Due